If someone was to ask you, “What do you want right now?”, how would you answer? Chances are the deep places in your heart are yearning for something. Some life-long goal, or dream to be realized. Or maybe it’s something as simple as a repaired relationship, or being able to pay the bills. It’s easy to focus on the future and desire more, believing that success or contentment is just around the corner.
We've heard it said that “life is a journey, not a destination”, but so often we can be guilty of waiting for that moment of arrival, feeling unfulfilled or unhappy till we are there. The yearnings we have are often placed in our hearts for a reason, so it’s important not to ignore them, but how can we be fully present and enjoy the journey along the way to our desires?
Recognize your progress and practice thankfulness.
When it comes to an unfulfilled longing or making a dream a reality, sometimes it can feel like taking three steps forward and two steps back. Progress can be slow, halting and full of dead ends. Maybe you feel like you’re losing valuable time and you’re wrestling with discouragement.
Sometimes we can be so focused on our setbacks, that it obscures our ability to see the progress we’ve made. When I’m feeling down about where I am or what I have, I find the act of giving thanks can totally change my perspective in a matter of minutes. Meditating on the things you’re thankful for, no matter how many bumps you’re experiencing on your journey, reframes everything. Even better: put your words of thanks in writing so you can read through them when you need a reminder.
Take time for rest and refreshment.
Today’s world is one without limits. Expectations are high and social media shows us an unrealistically perfect view of everyone around us. We are constantly bombarded with images of success and happiness that are grossly skewed. We know this isn’t reality, but there is still a nagging voice inside telling us to try harder. Be better. Hustle more.
None of us can keep up this crazy busy pace and actually continue to be creative, productive and healthy. Taking one day each week to not only rest, but also do something that refreshes you, will leave you inspired and energized for the journey ahead. Making this self-care habit a part of your regular routine, along with a good night’s sleep, will give you more endurance and peace in the long run.
Remember your worth is not in your performance nor your possessions.
All of us were created with different areas of giftedness and we are naturally proud of these areas and what they’ve achieved for us. It can be easy to conclude that our worth comes from our strengths, what we’ve accomplished or the opinions of other people. But none of these things are really true. What happens when you or I lose a job, or someone’s opinion of us changes? Does your value decrease? Of course not. Yet as ridiculous as it sounds, we can subconsciously embrace the belief that our worth changes with our circumstances without realizing it.
You might not be where you want to in life, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or that you are worth less than someone else you deem more successful, attractive, brilliant, etc. Your worth is inherent in the one-of-a-kind person God created you to be. You are valuable for the person you are, not merely what you do, despite what others might make you feel.
Help others on their journeys.
As human beings we were meant to live in community. Over the course of one’s life, a person touches countless others, whether she is aware of it or not. Who knows the impact you will have on those around you? Each person has influence, whether it is in a circle the size of their immediate family, or a wider arena. And so it’s wise to ask oneself, “What am I pursuing? And “Who is this for?”
Even in the pursuit of my personal goals and dreams, I must recognize this journey is not just about me. Life is ultimately unfulfilling when we are merely serving ourselves. I believe strongly that you and I have had certain experiences and challenges as a way to reach out and serve others - to lift another up with what we have learned. Ultimately our journeys become about the lives we touch along the way - about what we gave and the people we served. Nothing will turn a journey into a legacy faster, and maybe this is part of the ultimate destination after all.